While the buildings and grounds of the Staunton Military Academy presented a sense of majesty to the scene and the faculty provided an excellence in education, the Corps of Cadets provided the spirit of SMA. Or, as it may be said formally, the Esprit De Corps. This Esprit De Corps exhibited itself everyday. It was present at athletic events, where the voices of the Corps raised together in rumbling cheers. It showed itself in town, where the manners of the cadets were polite and reflected the attributes of the gentlemen they wren being trained to be. It shown forth at the formal retreat parades held every Sunday as the uniforms shined in the sun while the cadets marched in perfect formations with the drum-line beating and flags flying.
Starting with 60 students in 1884, the Corps grew and shriveled over the years. Their numbers followed the economic and social conditions of the country. The smallest Corps totaled 15 cadets in 1900. The largest boasted 665 cadets marching to the drumline in 1967. In 1976, the last year that the Corps marched in Staunton, 172 cadets were marched at the final graduation parade. In total, from 1884 until 1976, over 19,000 cadets wore the uniform of SMA. Almost 7,500 of those cadets graduated and received diplomas.
Note: The SMA History Project is currently working with the SMAAA Legacy Fund Project to create a searchable database where the information about each individual cadet that attended SMA will be accessible. Sign up using the form in the left menu to receive more information as it becomes available about this part of the Project. In the meantime, more information about the individual members of the Corps of Cadets can be found in the school catalogs, the yearbooks, the Literary Magazine, and the cadet newspapers.